The cost of building — and later removing — the now notorious Marble Arch Mound has nearly doubled from the original £3.3 million to £6 million.

As a result, Westminster Council’s deputy leader, Melvyn Caplan, who led the Mound project has resigned, while the council has launched a review into how the project went so badly wrong.

The mound was supposed to cost £2 million to design, build and remove — plus £0.5 million for permanent improvements in the area, but those costs have now jumped to £5.2 million.

Some of the cost rises are apparent in a council document, such as the need to provide full access to Thames Water mains pipe running through the site, road closures to facilitate laydown construction area to the west of the mound and the incorporation of Horse’s Head sculpture into the structure.

The operating costs, such as staffing, have not changed, and remain at £0.8 million.

The original plans had anticipated that the £3.3 million costs would be partially recovered from around £2.1 million in sales, such as ticketing, sponsorships, a cafe and merchandise sales. The cafe still hasn’t arrived, the exhibition isn’t ready yet, and sponsors are running away from the project faster than an Olympic athlete

The council, having admitted that they opened the Mound before the planting had grown properly as they still hope it will, are now offering free tickets for the rest of August – which you can book here.

When the mound is taken down next January, the plan is for the grass to be reused on green roofs and the trees replanted along Oxford Street.


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  1. Sykobee says:

    It really feels like pre-project due diligence was not performed, at least to an adequate standard.

    I am sure the taxpayers of the borough are delighted with this outlay.

    Apparently all the grass and trees are dying now (despite the rain in the past month) so that replanting idea which would have been one benefit at least is looking less likely.

    The council leader is still saying ‘Doing nothing was never an option.’ – but (1) it was, that would have saved £5+m, and (2) opportunity cost – what else could they have done with that money to attract people / improve the area / etc?

  2. Dale says:

    For that cost surely a permanent pavilion could have been built with, say, an art space inside. Wasted opportunity and typical lamentable management.

  3. Mike Levy says:

    A barmy idea in the best boris tradition. The knighthood/seat in the Lords is no doubt in the post

    • Melvyn says:

      At least this councillor has resigned unlike Boris Johnson and his vanity garden bridge which never got past go …..

  4. Geoffrey Howard says:

    Not in the same World as the tax/rate payers. So much to be done and they build another brainless folly.

  5. Cliff says:

    We have a similar problem in the Royal Borough of Greenwich where the Woolwich Works Cultural Centre on Woolwich Arsenal has over run aand gone way over budget. But Greenwich Council will not declare the final cost of the project.

    I hope it will be a great success with some major artist appearing at the venue when the project is finally finished. Expected opening date September 2021.

  6. Peter Feltham says:

    Only in Britain does madness like this take place.You may as well burn taxpayers money,scandal doesn’t describe this stupidity.Rather like the wasted £50,000,000 on Diana’s non existant bridge,you get the politicians you desrve.

  7. Alex Phillips says:

    Looking at this as part of a 150million pounds project its easy to get things wrong by a million here or there.
    while it is a complete balls up by a load of people
    ‘working from home’
    its just a drop in the ocean when costs are being discussed.
    I think the councillor that has resigned could have a solid future in heading up ridiculous projects as a professional fall guy.

  8. Lizebeth says:

    How can such complete idiocy be approved in the first place??

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